Thursday, December 31, 2015

Blue Whale & Narwhal

Blue whales are the largest mammal on Earth…which means that even in a fantasy world they should be in the top 10 or so.  And your druid totally deserves a bigger pet.

Meanwhile, narwhals are the unicorns of the sea…or at least that’s what salty old sailors like to tell landlubbers.  The truth is more mundane, but you still don’t want to be gored by one.

A red tide kills fish…and maddens mammals.  Driven wild by the taint in their diet, a pod of narwhals harasses a party of adventurers, goring at the sides of their kayaks.  If the beasts are somehow cured of the red tide, they will flee in confusion but may remember the adventurers (or at least their boats) at a later encounter.

Someone harpooned a blue whale.  Never mind the taboos against it, never mind that elven corsairs will burn offenders to the ground, and never mind that right whales serve up better oil and sperm whales better ambergris…someone harpooned a blue whale. And now the injured and half-mad beast is smashing every ship that leaves Manticore Harbor into flinders.

It’s the perfect scam.  Join a whaling expedition, come back with a narwhal tusk or two, catch the cogwheel down south to Morrowton, present the narwhal horns as unicorn horns, and gain entrance to the prestigious the League of Hunters of Monsters Most Foul.  What could go wrong?

Pathfinder Adventure Path #59 86–87 & Pathfinder Bestiary 5 51

And that closes us out for 2015!  Thanks for your patience and fandom during these last two or three post-light months, and let’s look forward to many more monsters in the year to come!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Blood & Horn Caterpillars

Putting “blood” in front of a noun is practically cheating when it comes to monster names, but damn does it work wonders in the blood caterpillar’s case.  That’s a terrifying juxtaposition, particularly when the result is the size of a horse, deals Strength damage when attacked, and feeds on rotting flesh. 

Horn caterpillars feed on the hooves and horns of dead ungulates,” says Bestiary 5.  Which means that they should be at the top of pretty much every GM’s list of low-level monsters. 

One of the ways fantasy role-playing falls short in the verisimilitude department is that we don’t pay nearly enough attention to livestock.  Cattle matters to the pre-modern world, even a magical one.  The Táin Bó Cúailnge was sparked by a cow.  Half of Heracles’s labors involved one farm animal or another.  The defining crime of the bad guy in a Western?  Cattle rustling. 

So in any halfway “realistic” fantasy world, a monster that feasts on the hooves and horns of cattle and other livestock should be a pretty common nuisance.  Clearing out a clutch of horn caterpillars that have taken over the local slaughtering yard might be the first unglamorous job for many a would-be adventurer.

Just on the cusp of adulthood, a band of young friends is charged with escorting their clan’s dead to the traditional resting place, a network of deep caves.  Unfortunately, a clutch of horn caterpillars now infests one of the chambers near the surface, feasting on the offerings of antlers and horns left there by clan shamans.

Adventurers accompany a local celebrity, a renowned halfling sellsword, to the Moot at Highbarrow.  Spotting the telltale signs of battle and cobwebs strewn in the road along the way, he takes a detour to hunt giant spiders—a callback to the ambush that made him famous.  Only the cobwebs aren’t cobwebs; they're caterpillar silk…and the halfling’s famed magic sword carries no enchantment against other vermin.

High on their success defeating goblins, some fresh-faced party adventurers soon find themselves out of money and hurting for work.  They’re forced to take jobs at the local abattoir rooting out a horn caterpillar infestation…and then they come across a corpse that isn’t bovine.

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 51

Achieved escape velocity, finally home in Maryland.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


The blightspawn may look like a giant mosquito, but it’s far more deadly.  Not only is it man-sized and man-smart (a not-bad Int 7), it’s also got a poison sting, a stagnation aura that lulls its victims into torpor, and spell-like abilities—including bestow curse, blur, and contagion—even many druids would envy. 

But its neatest party trick is its ability to gestate for years and even decades inside a human host.  The blightspawn was originally introduced as the blightspawn of Ghlaunder (courtesy of the adventure Feast of Ravenmoor) and they are a combination boon/weapon from Golarion’s demigod of parasites and disease.  A cultist carrying a larval blightspawn may nurture the aberration his entire life, only hatching the creature in death…and all his children may be likewise so favored.  In your campaign, blightspawn might serve a similar god of disease, a Horseman of the Apocalypse, demonkind, or an evil plane itself.  Or blightspawn might just be a natural (if truly horrific) parasite, with no divine strings attach.  Fantasy worlds can be buggy like that.

One last note: A lot of GMs struggle with making character death scary in a raise dead world.  Having a character’s corpse birth a blightspawn (and all the complications for resurrection that implies) could be an ideal way to ratchet up the fear level.

Three separate groups of pilgrims embarked from Brighton today through the Gate of the Faithful…and one of them is hiding a pupating blightspawn among its number.  Adventures must attempt to suss out which band of pilgrims the ailing cultist is hiding among and apprehend the would-be aberration.

A remote stronghold struggles to contain an epidemic of thorny vines that seem intent on walling off the barony.  The glands of a blightspawn could be used to ward off the vegetable horrors and even stunt their growth (as per diminish plants).  Adventurers in search of these components follow disturbing rumors to a town given over to the worship of parasites, where every adult lives in service to—or as a future meal for—one entity or another, including several blightspawn.

An adventurer isn’t trying to stop a blightspawn—he intends to become one.  Raised by cultists from birth to worship the Maiden in Shrouds, the adventurer leaps into battle believing his death will only hasten the birth of the moth-winged avatar inside him.  If he succeeds in being slain in combat, he will leave his companions fighting one more monster.  Assuming they bring him around to the worship of another deity before this happens, the next challenge will be safely extracting the larval blightspawn from inside him.

Feast of Ravenmoor 29 & Pathfinder Bestiary 5 43

Another canceled flight.  Another night in Minneapolis.  Uff da.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Bisha Ga Tsuku

Imagine a cold so gelid even souls can’t escape it.  Now imagine a creature that creates that kind of cold—and feeds on the souls it traps.  That’s the bisha ga tsuku. 

[Those words were much more fun when I originally typed them more than a week ago.  Since then I a) contracted The Cold The Would Not Die that KOed all of the past week, including Christmas with my brother in Portland, and b) got diverted out of Chicago (still sick!) because of ice and snow.  I’m currently in a hotel room in Minneapolis, which gives soul-trapping cold a whole new meaning.]

Inspired by Japanese folklore—and check out the illustrations on this page if you want some wonderfully creepy yōkai art—the bisha ga tsuku is an outsider (not least because it is born from a soul, and consumes other souls in turn) but a native one (meaning it falls outside the usual planar’s not even an oni).  It’s almost a thing of pure cold itself…but it’s also not an elemental ice creature, as it clearly has some kind of vaguely amphibious (and tentacled) body.  Like those rare forms of life that only grow in the vents of undersea volcanoes, the bisha ga tsuku seems to be a thing that chucks the usual rules of spiritual taxonomy out the window.

In other words, it’s a creepy snow creature, but not in any of the ways most players would suspect.  And it’s creeping up behind you as we speak.  Bisha bisha.  Bisha Bisha.  Bisha Bisha…

Windmarsh Monastery is known to be haunted by a yuki-onna.  Historically the prayers and spells of the friars have kept the undead spirit at bay, but this season three brothers have been found frozen to death out on the moors.  One of the yuki-onna’s recent victims was a low-ranking member of the Assassins’ Guild, and he has returned as a bisha ga tsuku eager to kill without regard to contracts or holy ground.

Adventurers seek the dread plateau of Leng.  Before they can reach it, they must face a number of hazards in the high mountain passes, including avalanches, half-mad yeti sentinels, and strange stone monoliths that move on their own.  Worse yet, a bisha ga tsuku lurks near an otherwise ideal camping spot (a narrow ravine sheltered from the wind) sapping the soul energy of all who come through.

On the frozen moon of Wintersmith, the intrepid miners seek out mithral by sending diving bells deep below the frozen crust.  When a distant but profitable mining station goes silent, a band of sellswords is called in to investigate.  A bisha ga tsuku is the culprit, having already devoured the souls of most of the men.  Truly perceptive adventurers might also realize that the outsider’s presence foreshadows another mystery: Wintersmith was supposed to be uninhabited…so whose soul created the bisha ga tsuku?

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 42

Hey guys!  Long time no see.  I’d type more, but I need every ounce of strength to manage my nonstop tissues-and-lozenges regimen.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bat, Locust & Rat Plague Swarms

When you’re a PC, fighting swarms is bad enough.  But plague swarms…that’s when things get really nasty.  Because plague swarms are manifestations of a deity’s wrath, sent in retribution for some slight.  That means they're more powerful (even the humble rat plague swarm clocks in at CR 11) and mythic (8 ranks!) to boot.  They multiply with alarming speed and reform until their destruction condition is met.  Sometimes they have beneficial strategic or defensive attributes (individuals in a rat plague swarm share a hivemind; bat plague swarms are divinely protected).  Worst of all, they all have a unique nasty attack.   Rat plague swarms are diseased, spreading lycanthropy.  Bat plague swarms cause bleed and negative level damage—which can birth vampires(!) that serve the swarm (not the other way around).  And locust plague swarms?  They just eat everything—including magic items—with what are effectively adamantine jaws.

So say your prayers and start researching destruction conditions…because once called, these magical beasts don't stop until an entire city is destroyed.

A ratfolk sage immolates himself in the central square of Newport, promising vengeance even as the flames take his body.  The vengeance, when it arrives, is swift and deadly: a rat plague swarm.  Adventures must not only defeat the foul skittering hivemind, but then solve the mystery of what Power sent it—for no one in Newport, including the small ratfolk community, understands what sin was committed against the sage or his faith.

Adventurers need to recover the body of Preston Melark, an oracle whose visions may hold the key to the defeat of the Minotaur Lord.  But Melark fell in the defense of Tamar, the Living City, whose very stones (courtesy of a divine blessing and a strong conduit to the Positive Energy Plane) heal the wounded and birth new defenders into being.  Now a vampire puppet of the plague bat swarm, Preston Melark’s undead corpse is caught in an unending cycle of death, coming every night to feed at the throats of the fresh soldiers born to the Living City that dawn.

It’s said that the Lur of Laram could knock down a city wall or rouse the Sleeping Celestials.  And it may be just the thing to stop Daemon Tide.  But some other player is at work, for when adventurers reach the city of Parsin, a locust plague swarm and its brood are already devouring everything in its path—including the ancient horn.

Bestiary 5 192–193

Working on getting this regular update thing happening again.  Please continue to bear with me.

I’m not finding stats for Bestiary 5’s plague swarms online yet, though Pathfinder Adventure Path #79: The Half-Dead City had several nonmythic swarms, including the plague locust swarm.

Wayfinder #14 went live on Monday, with fiction by yours truly—the first fantasy story I’ve ever published, and my first published work in ages.  It’s a dash of ghost story and a pinch of noir.  (The brutal word count restrictions inspired the staccato tone.)  I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to Tim and Paris for the acceptance email, the other contributors for submitting, the slushers and patient editors (especially Charlie and Matthew, who went through my piece line by line) for all their hard work, and Stephen Wood for the great illustration.  Download it for free here.

Tuesday’s show turned out really nice.  I wasn’t expecting anything special, aside from things being a bit more gravelly/fuzzy than usual, but I relistened to it and was just like, “Yeah. Nice.”  Maybe you’ll dig it too.  Stream or download it till Monday, 12/7, at midnight.

Monday, November 23, 2015


(Image by Rogier van de Beek comes from the Paizo Blog and is © Paizo Publishing.)

Balisses, also known as confessor angels, are absolutely striking: bodies wreathed in darkness, but with piercing yellow eyes and glorious wings.  Having known darkness in their own lives and deeds—and subsequently repented and reformed—they now lead others to the light through gentle guidance and open ears.

That said, don’t lay your hands on one—“[T[hey will brook no physical attacks,” says Bestiary 5.  Which means they’ll happily holy smite you and slap a mark of justice on you to remind you to be more polite in future.

Finally, keep in mind that regularly shouldering the sins of others can be a burden too great for even an angel.  Balisses may be crafted from the souls of the redeemed, but they can always fall again…

There are the laws of the gods, and then there are the laws of men…which can lead a balisse into hot water. The ruthless Ament Elfslayer has resurfaced, and a party of adventurers is deputized to retrieve him—dead or alive.  But Ament has recently sought to atone for his past under the careful stewardship of a confessor angel.  The balisse fears that if Ament is executed now his soul will still be too stained to go to the Celestial Realms.  So he brashly decides to take up arms against the adventures, even if they are of good hearts.

A reformation is sweeping the church of Eo, and among its tenets is the stricture never to treat with an otherworldly creature—even an angel.  Naturally, that sets the reformers directly against the primarch, who is well known for making his confession to none other than a balisse.  The reformation has already turned bloody, and if adventurers join the side of the Reborn Men, it is only a matter of time before they face off against the primarch and his heavenly guide.

Jagu was saved from a life of sin by a saint who showed him the error of his cruel words and deeds.  His lover who lured him into darkness, Beatrix, experienced no such epiphany and died trying to assassinate the saint.  In penance for both his and her crimes, Jagu led a life of service and after death was incarnated as a balisse.  He remembered little of his mortal life until Beatrix reappeared as Bealitrix, a succubus.  Too long in her company and Jagu fell in love and back into darkness again.  Now a corrupt angel on the path to demonhood (with special abilities such as detect good instead of evil, inflict serious wounds, etc.), Jagu does Bealitrix’s bidding in all things.

Chronicle of the Righteous 59 & Bestiary 5 22

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Baku Dreamweaver

Baku dreamweavers are the specialists of the baku race—more powerful than their generic baku kin, but consuming only the dreams of the imaginative, the creative, and the psychic.  They are still deadly foes of night hags and other oneiric predators, making them essentially benevolent protectors of mortal dreamers.

You might even say dreamweavers can get you through thenight…?

(I…I don’t know what just came over me.  I am so, so sorry.)


Where baku dreamweavers truly shine is their ability to facilitate travel through and even shape the Dimension of Dreams, courtesy of abilities like dream voyage, dream whispers, dream shepherd, and so on.  Nothing says you’re about to embark on an extraordinary voyage like embarking on a dreamship with a levitating tapir as your captain…

Adventurers continually wake up fatigued and mentally foggy.  Soon they realize their memories have grown faulty as well.  A dreamthief hag has the soul of baku dreamweaver’s mate held hostage in her dreamstone.  The hag has directed the dreamweaver to torment the adventurers so that she remains free to pursue other plans unopposed.

To gain safe passage through a fey lord’s domain, adventurers agree to bring him “the ram from the Hill of Dream Poppies.”  The “ram” is actually a baku dreamweaver, and the adventurers will have to sleep on the hillside to even spot the creature, let alone capture it.  Of course, sleeping in Faerie carries its own risks…  Even if the adventurers capture the baku, they wake in thorn manacles, bound hand and foot by the fey lord who has no scruples about breaking his bargain.

The dead don’t dream—especially not in Hell.  But mortal prisoners do.  Not long after their friend is stolen away by devils, adventurers have an encounter with a baku dreamweaver.  The magical beast saw the adventurers in their friend’s dreams and wished to see them (and possibly taste their dreams) for himself.  The baku’s ability to travel so fluidly through the Dimension of Dreams sparks plans for one of the most daring jailbreaks on two planes.

Occult Bestiary 10

<nerd voice> Um, excuse me, Paizo, but Gary Wright clearly indicates that dreamweavers fly through the Astral Plane, not the Dimension of Dreams, despite their name.  Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.” </nerd voice>

Monday, November 16, 2015



Honestly, I was expecting I would have gotten deeper into the Occult Bestiary’s alphabet by now, but my life has not been kind to blogging the last month or so.  That’s fine though—B isn’t a terrible place to start in any case.  (You astral dragon fans are going to be peeved though.)

The bagiennik comes from Slavic mythology.  Pathfinder has softened them from demons to fey, but kept most of the essential features, including caustic snot with the potential to heal even more than it harms.  Surprisingly powerful for such small (or rather, Small) fey, bagienniks are likely much sought after as healers by communities too poor or remote for powerful clerics to visit…even if that means putting up with their large (and probably voracious and troublesome) extended families.

Wikipedia also says that bagienniks are kin to banniks, or bathhouse spirits, and since we don't have stats for the latter, a bagiennik will do quite nicely for those GMs who want to do a Ukrainian version of Spirited Away

Desperate to cure his young bride of gyre pox, the jarl of Aelf Steading invited a bagiennik and his family to winter in his hold.  The salamander-like fey moved right in, and it turned out his family was much larger than advertised.  That, combined with the bagienniks’ propensity for pranks and their swampy smell, has the folk of the steading desperate for spring.  The jarl remains grateful to the fey, though, and rightly fears the chief god Wotan’s wrath should he renege on his offer of hospitality.  Thus his mission to a band of adventurers crazy enough to travel through his land in winter: Find the bagiennik family a new home...and fast.

Adventurers are racing to heal their friend’s wasting disease.  Short on options, they seek out a bagiennik rumored to lair in a local swamp.  But between them and the fey is the domain of some particularly nasty vooniths, who intend on both tormenting the adventurers and following them to get their hands on the elusive bagiennik flesh they’ve long hungered for.  Meanwhile, the adventurers’ old enemies, the sadistic Soot-Black Knights, are hot on their trails, driving their hunting slaves before them on long leashes of iron chain.

A popular medicinal bath is the site of an odd guerilla war.  Bagienniks have always tended the natural springs and aided the local healers, to the delight of those patients who made pilgrimages there.  Recently though, priests of the Red Lord have restored and reconsecrated an old monastery in the area.  While their clerics have not pushed the local healers out, they have assumed de facto ownership of the baths, up to and including hanging the Red Lord’s symbol—offending the nature-revering fey.  Pranks and vandalism were the fey’s response, but that only enraged the dour priests of order, and last week blood was spilled for the first time.  Now the claws (and the nasal spray) have come out, and any adventurers who visit the baths must pick a side.

Bestiary 5 40

So far the stats for Bestiary 5 monsters aren’t up yet, so you’ll have to rely on the book itself for the full run-down.

I haven’t followed the Midgard setting very closely (I haven’t even read the two gazetteers I do own), but apparently there’s a Midgard version of the bagiennik as well.

The first time I saw the Aethera Campaign Setting Kickstarter, my spirits fell a little because it veers dangerously close to some ideas I’ve been wanting to work on.  So I was a just wee bit bummed that other talented people have launched themselves into that space first.

But now my spirits are falling because I’m worried this project won’t get funded.  Despite even a glowing preview on io9, it's been stuck about halfway to its goal, and there are only six days left.

Only SIX days.  To make a SPACE setting for Pathfinder a reality.  That’s just NUTS.

I want to see this live, so I just plopped down a chunk of change at the Marshal level.  Maybe you can do likewise, at whatever level you can afford?  (Also, Todd Stewart, an early friend of this blog, is involved.)  I pretty much never, ever back a Kickstarter—let alone push one—but I’m backing this one, and it would be cool if you guys did too.

Monday, November 9, 2015


With their spindly limbs, arms instead of legs (giving them the predatory slink of a jungle cat or mandrill), and distinctive flaps of skin(?) over their faces, avataranas look like things out of a video game—and guess what, it’s a horror title.  (And since you guys know that world a lot better than me, you’ll have to tell me which one.)

Lots of rakshasas want to manipulate mortals, but avataranas skip the details and just flat-out possess them, actually melting into their bodies.  The Occult Bestiary details their usual M.O. after that point:

[T]hey patiently work their way up social ladders, finding more impressive and influential individuals to possess […] but their viciousness increasingly shows. Only when others turn against their victims do avataranas release their control, leaving their prey to deal with the ramifications of the rakshasa’s acts.”

So first the issue is detecting the rakshasa, then the issue is successfully confronting the outsider without killing the host, and ideally doing so in a public setting so that the host’s innocence in the rakshasa’s vile doings can be confirmed.  And it’s that last part that’s the tricky bit.  Reputations don’t respond to Heal checks, and in a game world without mass media, Diplomacy and Profession (Barrister) checks will only get you so far…particularly against a monster who’s probably been using mental magic left and right for weeks, if not months or years, on the very people the PCs are trying to win over.  Good luck!

Adventurers are being fêted by vanaras after services to one of the ape-men’s gurus, only to be framed for the murder of an occultist by the end of the banquet.  They are kept on the run and sleepless throughout the vanara temple complex, with friends becoming enemies the second the rakshasa takes possession of them.

The Choker King is neither a choker nor a doppelganger.  He is an avatarana…and some of the chokers even whisper that he shaped them in his own image.  (The doppelgangers are too proud to whisper such things, but privately some believe it.)  The chokers say you never know when the king will chose to ride one of them (which also means that in game terms he is Advanced enough to possess aberrations as well as humanoids).  Certain doppelgangers have pieced together there is a pattern to his killings, and quake with the knowledge that all their race’s pitiful schemes and murders might be simply a smokescreen to hide his real ends.  The chokers simply know that if you displease the Choker King, he’ll likely torture and murder your whole clutch out of hand…and if you think the rack or crucifixion are awful, you really haven’t seen them until you’ve seen them inflicted upon creatures whose limbs stretch more than twice their own height…

In a sudden reversal of policy, the head of the British Museum declares all Egyptian artifacts to be pagan works that corrupt the national spirit, and demands they be smashed.  The head Egyptologist is horrified and demands a party of adventurers investigate.  (And since they are owed a substantial bounty for recovering many of these artifacts from under the nose of Napoleon’s armies, the adventurers have a vested interest in doing so.)  The British Museum head is actually under the possession of an avatarana who does not wish Britain to unlock the secrets of the artifacts, as they could open the door to occult powers with the potential to rival his own.  Of course, if the adventurers successfully drive out the rakshasa, they may have traded one evil for another, because the Egyptology department has been thoroughly infiltrated by worshippers of the Great Old Ones—cultists who very much want to see those artifacts not only preserved and catalogued, but also put to use.

Occult Bestiary 49

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Animus Shade

When we covered the alter ego, we talked about how one of the bizarre but neat things about the Occult Adventures/Bestiary rules sets (as well as 3.5’s psionic rules) is how they bring to life psychological terms we take for granted as actual monsters.  (Or to put it another way, Pathfinder has a way of turning psychological constructs into…well, constructs.) 

And with the animus shade, we have yet another example.  To the Romans, the animus was the soul; Jung borrowed the term to round out his theories of the male and female aspects inside every person; and then Pathfinder mashed the two notions together to create the animus shade.  According to the Occult Bestiary, there are warring aspects inside every soul—“primitive survival urges and base wants opposing intellectual reason and high-minded goals.”  Sometimes one of these aspects gets locked away, only to be freed during a psychically injurious death.  The resulting creature is, of course, undead—and so we circle back to the Romans’ notion of the animus as a soul, only this time with a stat block and a lot of murder on its mind.  Neat!

(If we were going to be really pompous and Saussurean about it we would talk about the word animus being a signifier upon which more and more meaning has accreted, changing that which it signifies, but I don’t see anyone that pompous around here, do you?)

The key thing to remember about animus shades (besides they fact that they are invariably violent—like most undead, these are not the result of peaceful deaths, and it shows) is that they are the formerly dominated and repressed aspects of the victim’s subconscious.  So unlike, say, ghosts, who want their former life’s purpose fulfilled or acknowledged in some way, animus shades want the exact opposite.  Animus shades was to tear that former life apart (and anyone who reminds them of that life in the bargain).  Many a would-be exorcist has attempted to lay to rest an animus shade as if it were a ghost, only to drive the creature to new heights of rage instead.

An animus shade runs loose in the baths at Quivis.  Technically it is not an animus shade but rather an anima shade—the female aspect of diplomat Tarkus Morne.  Captured by a fear eater who repeatedly tormented Morne so that it might harvest psychedelic mushrooms from his body, Morne died a terrified wreck.  A vain and haughty man, his suppressed female self has manifested as a hideous medusa, the embodiment of all Morne’s doubts and fears in life.  The corpulent, caterpillar-like fear eater still lurks in the steamy caverns beneath the baths, and will no doubt capture another victim very soon.

Asuras and divs love creating the conditions that birth animus shades, delighting that the shade will actually work to despoil and ruin all that the victim loved in its mortal life.  Their lairs often feature carefully stoppered jars, bottles, lamps, or other vessels (with ghost salt nearly always being an ingredient in the crafting) that each hold an animus shade trapped inside.  Enraged from their long captivity, these shades will always attack, particularly if the one who disturbed them calls to mind the shades’ former lives.

A psychically injurious death is a necessary ingredient for the creation of an animus shade, or so the theory goes…but particularly vile rites and surgeries can sometimes carve out the suppressed subconscious aspects without killing the patient.  A very small number of derros, kytons, and rakshasas know the technique, which they use in their respective pursuits of science, transcendence, and dominance.  The patients who survive the process are nearly always subtly wrong in some way, and many of them make excellent and utterly remorseless assassins and slayers.  Meanwhile, the leftovers from their psychiectomies linger on as animus shades on the Ethereal Plane near where the incision was made.  Truly depraved humans know these tricks too…and not all of them are the chakra butchers of the Assassin Mountains either.  Berserker lodges use ritual combat, scarring, and nearly lethal drugs to drive weakness out of their bodies, and throughout the Northlands the animus shades of these cast-off aspects haunt the misty places between the worlds.

Occult Bestiary 6–7

Slowly getting back on schedule.  Keep the faith and please keep reblogging!  It totally makes my day.

For those of you not following along at home, the monster blogging is delayed.  Because Canada.  That’s all I can say.  Canada. You know how in the Hitchhiker books the word “Belgium” (my homeland, theoretically) is a swear word?  This week I have been completely Canada-ing Canada-ed.

But I did do a radio show for you!  New Foxing, new Grimes, classic Eels, and 20 years of Pulp’s Different Class.   Bear with the awkward intro—there’s some volume issues during the Josh Ritter track that are totally my bad—and enjoy!

(The link is good till Monday, 11/9, at midnight and you can always right-click/Save As if you want to keep it for longer.)

Friday, October 30, 2015


Amanusyas are beguiling performers and seducers.  Interestingly, they are not interested in the seduction of souls per se, but rather that of the body—welcoming new partners in vice, gaining new victims to toy with or devour, and turning ascetics into the worst kind of addicts and gourmands.  Of course, if their actions cause a victim’s soul to fall off the wheel of reincarnation and return as a rakshasa, so much the better.

Since the last time a party of adventurers was in town, an amanusya has reduced a once popular local street preacher into a babbling, paranoid wreck.  The adventurers might not have even noticed, but they have been recently charged with administering a dead man’s estate by the local magistrate.  The dead man left a sizable fortune and a public hall to the preacher, and the adventurers could face criminal charges or ruinous tax bills on their treasure if they don't find the preacher (and ideally ease his torment).

In the guise of a beautiful woman, an amanusya asks the party’s help in saving her fiancée from temptation.  Apparently he has fallen in with servants of the Nine, rejecting the 1,001 gods of the Heavenly Panoply for the small, dour pantheon of the North.  She fears his soul may be lost from the cycle of reincarnation!  The truth, though, is that the man sought the missionaries’ help in curing his many addictions.  The amanusya, certain she was grooming a future rakshasa mate, is determined not to lose her toy after part of only one lifetime.

A troupe of amanusyas has permission to dance in the lobby of the Palace of Souls.  Those they lure away from the Procession of the Dead are reborn as rakshasas (typically raktavarnas). Unable to break the letter of their agreement, some pychopomp clerks hire mortal adventurers to drive off the troublemaking troubadours before any more petitioners are lost.

Occult Bestiary 48

I know “amanusya” means something like “any other being but a man” or “demon,” but all I’m finding is links to an anime.  Thoughts?

Yes, I only posted about monsters twice this week—but there is a method to my madness!  (That method involves making sure that Friday’s post is always a multiple of five in the archive, so I don't go mad.)

Also, today I blabbed about Eberron on Reddit during my lunch break.  It’s nothing you all haven’t heard before, but if you’re new to the blog check it out!

Did you appreciate this?  Because I did.

This week’s radio show was all about big anniversaries: 20 years of Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill.  Also a massive set of strong ’90s/’00s female artists, plus new Grimes!  The link is good till Monday, 11/2, and you can right-click/Save As if you want to download it.  Enjoy!